Friday, 6 June 2008

Ethanol as Biofuel

Thursday night I watched a really good episode on the use of ethanol as a biofuel in Canada, it was aired on CBC's The National. The main points of the story were:
  1. Neither environmentalists nor business wanted to use ethanol as a biofuel, it was a government thing. 
  2. Government created a market for ethanol by requiring all gasoline sold in Canada by 2010 to contain 5% ethanol. 
  3. There are some ethanol plants in Canada, but there is not enough corn grown so it has to be imported from the US.
  4. Major environmental problems of this include high CO2 and smog emissions released from combustion of it, agricultural runoff from farmlands used for growing corn leads to eutrophication, ethanol which is very water soluble can enter ground and drinking water and eventually may end up in drinking water supplies, land that was once used for growing food is now used for biofuel source production thus decreasing food supply and increasing prices, and producing ethanol is very energy intensive.
  5. If all of the agricultural land in the world was used to make ethanol, it would only meet a fraction of the world's energy demand. 
I guess the final point that we can take home from this is that ethanol is definitely not the solution to our energy supply problems and we should be focussing more on energy reduction and more environmentally friendly renewable forms of energy.

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